FAQs About Tranfusion-Free Medicine

This section is designed to answer your basic questions.

What is transfusion-free medicine?

The transfusion-free medicine and surgery practice consists of a highly trained team of medical professionals that utilizes specific treatments, devices, techniques and equipment in order to accommodate the healthcare needs of individuals who choose not to receive blood or blood products.

Can most major surgical procedures be transfusion-free?

Today, thanks to advances in equipment and technology, doctors are able to successfully perform a multitude of procedures, ranging from routine tonsillectomies to complex orthopedic and open heart surgeries, without the use of blood transfusions.

Colorectal, Cardiothoracic, Gynecologic, Orthopedic, Liver & Pancreas Surgeons and other medical specialists are trained to perform these transfusion-free procedures.

How does it work?

Transfusion-free medicine is accomplished through pharmaceutical therapy, blood conservation and meticulous surgical techniques to minimize blood loss. Typically, one or more of the following procedures may be utilized to accomplish a “transfusion-free” surgery:

  • Filtering the patient’s blood through specialized devices and returning it to the body in a continuous circuit.
  • Using cauterizing surgical instruments (e.g. laser), rather than traditional scalpels.
  • Administering medicines to increase red blood cell production and encourage clotting.
  • Utilizing blood-dilution therapies during surgery.
  • Lowering the patient’s blood pressure and temperature during surgery.

Who uses transfusion-free therapy?

Traditionally, Jehovah’s Witnesses have been the primary users of transfusion-free medicine because of their religious convictions. Today, however, more and more people are requesting transfusion-free treatment due to concerns about increased risk of infection and recurrence of cancer.

Is there a hospital support network for transfusion-free patients?

Our commitment to transfusion-free medicine is to provide quality care while supporting our patients’ choices in every way possible. The Keck USC Transfusion-Free Surgery Program staff gets to know each of our patients personally and is available to them 24 hours a day. Our staff provides assistance to patients and their families throughout their hospital stay, from referral to a qualified physician to discharge from the hospital.

Is transfusion-free medicine safe?

There are some risks associated with any medical procedure. However, transfusion-free medicine may eliminate the possibility of blood incompatibilities and allergies as well as transmission of blood-borne pathogens, and reduce the risk of infection that exists with transfusions.

What’s the next step?

To learn more about the Keck USC Transfusion-Free Surgery Program, please call us toll free at (800) USC-CARE. Even if you are not planning an immediate hospital stay, you may contact us to discuss your wishes for future care or get your specific questions answered. It is particularly important to plan ahead for emergency situations.